Is Print on Your Company’s Zero Trust Security Checklist?

Brad Nelson
March 2021

When it comes to network security, the conventional wisdom was that a secure perimeter will keep out the bad guys, like a moat around a castle to defend against pillagers. But keeping up with sophisticated and evolving threats, both external and internal, has become an expensive game that never ends.

To stay ahead of the game, companies are increasingly moving toward a zero trust security paradigm. In a zero trust network security environment, nothing inside the network is inherently trusted. Bad actors are assumed to be inside the network already.

Hacker image

But the network remains secure, thanks to an array of technologies and best practices that make it practically impossible for hackers to do the kind of damage they have done in the past to data centers and corporate networks.

Print is just one small component of an effective network security strategy, but it’s a critical component that’s often overlooked. Office printers have been the attack vector for many corporate hacks, and some businesses have been slow to respond to the threat.

Several printer-related events have hit the news, including the MIT Technology Review report that Russian hackers are infiltrating companies via the office printer, and the 2020 hack of 28,000 printers – fortunately by a team of ethical hackers raising awareness.

If your office printers and employee printing workflows are not part of your security strategy, don’t wait another day to change that.

The zero trust security framework provides a new set of tools for organizations to respond to these threats, which is why it’s being adopted at such an aggressive pace: the zero trust segment alone is expected to be a $51.6 billion market by 2026, growing 17% annually. In addition, the NSA recently published guidance for zero trust security adoption.

If your office printers and employee printing workflows are not part of your security strategy, don’t wait another day to change that.

A security trend this significant should not be ignored. It’s the future, and the future is now. For this reason, it’s critical that your company’s print management solution complements your zero trust security strategy.

Organizations implement zero trust in a variety of ways, but here are a few must-haves for your zero trust print security checklist:

  • Identity and access management, including the separation of the print user identity from the workstation login
  • Validation of all communication endpoints (printers, workstations, mobile devices, cloud) before communication is initiated
  • Industry best practices for encryption such as zero knowledge encryption (for print jobs stored locally and in the cloud)
  • End-to-end encryption of print paths (from workstations to printers)

In addition, if your organization has an internet-only network configuration to eliminate attack surfaces (by making peer-to-peer communication between devices impossible) you can implement secure pull printing from the cloud. This takes print security to another level because the user has to be present at the printer to authenticate, protecting document confidentiality.

Pharos software complements any implementation of zero trust. We have worked with several Fortune 500 companies to provide guidance and solutions expertise to help these organizations secure their printing operations within their unique frameworks. We continue to lead and innovate in this area, and we encourage every IT professional to act now to ensure that office printing is not only secure, but prepared for the many unknowns of tomorrow.


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